Shop Talk: The Magic of Asymmetry

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Photo: Aaron Schmidt

Shop Talk: The Magic of Asymmetry

Dave Boehne knows a thing or two about progressive SUP shaping. He was raised in the shaping bay of his father, Steve Boehne, one of the first shapers to build and sell SUPs in their own market. Today, the father-son duo work together in side-by-side bays and produce some of the most progressive designs in the game.

Lately, Dave’s been stoked on asymmetric tails. So stoked, in fact, he went and shaped the tail of his newest high-performance model, the RNB, or Round Nose Blurr, with a line more resemblant of a stroke in a Picasso painting than a traditional surfboard tail. And believe it or not, the shape is winning. Dave took second in this year’s Santa Cruz Paddlefest on the RNB, and aims to surf it through the competitive season. He says, asymmetric tails just make more sense on SUP.

SUP: What’s the purpose of an asymmetric tail?

DB: The asymmetric tail offers a heel-side advantage. When you’re riding a standup paddleboard, you’re generally dealing with a wider tail, which makes turning on your heel more difficult. By keeping the width the same, and making the tail asymmetric, the heel side becomes shorter and looser than the toe side. I’m digging it. It really is like having two different boards in one.

Is there such thing as an asymmetric board for a toeside advantage?

I’ve had a couple orders from people who want the asym flipped around, but it really is best suited for backside surfing. It’s a lot easier to “load up” (put weight into the turn) facing forward than it is backward. So the asymmetric tail makes a lot of sense on a SUP because it’s harder to load up your heelside on these thicker, wider shapes.

The common perception is that asyms only work on pointbreaks or reefs where you’re always surfing in one direction. Is that correct? 

No, not at all. That’s the biggest misconception about an asymmetric tail. Some asymmetric boards are built like that, but the ones we’re making are meant for all-around surfing. They really feel quite normal, and that’s the goal. We want it to feel just like your regular tail, just a little looser on one side.

Tell us about the other characteristics of the RNB.

The RNB is based off the original Blurr board, which is more or less our version of a shortboard SUP. We just rounded the nose off, and since it really is like two different boards stuck together, it’s a single concave on one side, and a double concave on the other. Other than that, it’s kinda like those TOMO SUPs in a way. The rails are a bit more parallel, which shortens the outline and makes it more stable than the standard Blurr. But it’s still a full-on performance SUP.

What fin setup do you find works best with the asymmetric boards?

I use Future fins, and Future has a big range of quad fins and quad rears (the back two fins in the quad setup), so you can play with them all you want. I really like the RNB as a quad, since it’s got a wider tail. Personally, I like to ride really big rears on the RNB even though it’s super short. My board’s only 7’1”, but with the bigger fins, it’s still really drivey.

How did you come to this design?

Since we’re a custom manufacturer, we’re always working on new stuff. I don’t have any deadlines to meet or specific shapes to stick to. If I want to change something tomorrow, I change it tomorrow. I’m not trying to sell the “2015 model.” Doing custom work gives me creative freedom, which kind of puts me ahead of the curve in a way. A lot of brands are coming out with stuff we were selling years ago.

asymmetrical sup
Photo: Aaron Schmidt